If you raid the fridge when you’re stressed or upset,
that’s called emotional eating. Emotional eating
affects most people from time to time. But regularly
letting your feelings guide your food intake can affect
Emotions that can prompt eating include:
- Feeling down on yourself
- Not feeling that you're in control of your own life
Eating more food than your body needs can have
dangerous results. People who eat for emotional
reasons often gain too much weight. This puts them
at greater risk for type 2 diabetes, high blood
pressure, obesity, and cancer. Excessive eating has
emotional consequences as well. These include
feeling guilty or embarrassed afterward. Here are
steps you can take to stop emotional eating
episodes and break the cycle:
Learn to recognize hunger. Next time you
reach for a snack, ask yourself what’s driving it.
If you are truly hungry, you’ll notice physical
symptoms such as a growling stomach.
Other less obvious hunger cues include
grouchiness and trouble focusing. If you
don't have those signs, you likely don’t
need to eat right then.
Keep a journal. Write down what you eat each day.
Also include the feelings you were having at the
time and if you were truly hungry. You may find that
certain feelings, such as anger or sadness, lead to
your overeating. Once you see these triggers, you
can learn healthier ways to deal with them.
Build a support network. Having friends and family
around you who support your efforts to change your
eating habits can improve your chances of success.
Find other interests. You may find that your eating
is driven by boredom. A new passion can help boost
your self-confidence and fill your free time making
you less likely to look to food for emotional satisfaction.
Get help if needed. If you can’t control emotional
eating on your own, think about getting professional
help to change your behavior. A counselor or a registered
dietitian can help you change your eating habits and
deal with unpleasant emotions in a better way.